Thursday, July 25, 2024

USA 0-1 Uruguay: Copa America hosts crash out as La Celeste reach last eight

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 2 Jul 2024

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USA crashed out of the Copa America following a 1-0 defeat by Uruguay, who advanced to the quarter-finals as Group C winners.

The defeat at Arrowsmith Stadium – coupled with Panama’s 3-1 victory over bottom side Bolivia – culminated in the Stars and Stripes falling at the first hurdle in their own tournament.

Though both sides were generally lacking a creative spark in the final third, Mathias Olivera’s 66th-minute strike was enough to seal the hosts’ fate.

Meanwhile, Uruguay ensured a 100% record as they marched into the last eight, where a showdown with the Group D runners-up awaits them in Las Vegas on Saturday.

Each side lost a player to injury during a disjointed first half in Kansas City.

Uruguay’s Maximiliano Araujo was stretchered off with suspected concussion following an aerial collision with Tim Ream in the 27th minute, while Folarin Balogun limped off for the hosts four minutes before the break.

The closest either team came to breaking the deadlock was on 33 minutes when a quickly taken Uruguay free-kick released Nahitan Nandez, whose clipped effort towards goal was cleared away by Ream.

Just after the hour mark, news filtered through from Orlando that Bolivia had equalised against Panama to move Gregg Berhalter’s side back up to second place in Group C.

However, the joy was short-lived as a Uruguay free-kick saw Matt Turner parry Ronald Araujo’s fierce header straight to Olivera, who just about stayed onside to tuck home the rebound from close range.

Panama regained their lead soon after to leave the Stars and Stripes needing two goals to stand any chance of progressing.

Christian Pulisic and Haji Wright both saw deflected efforts blocked on the line, but that was as close as the tournament hosts came to finding a route back into the contest, as their stubborn opponents held out to inflict the defeat that ended hopes of home glory.

Unblemished Uruguay make Copa America history

When it comes to the Copa America, you write Uruguay off at your peril.

After all, La Celeste have won the competition 15 times – the most recent of these triumphs coming in 2011. It is a tally only matched by reigning champions Argentina. They have also only failed to progress beyond the group stages once in the last 25 years (2016).

And for the first time in their history, Uruguay have now registered a 100% record in a single group stage, while they have also started a single campaign with three straight wins for the first time since 1959.

Marcelo Bielsa was serving a touchline ban, but will return to the dugout for the quarter-finals. Having led Argentina to the final of this competition in 2004, he would love to go the extra step with La Celeste two decades on and get his hands on this trophy.

Unwanted history for departing host nation

For the first time at an international tournament, USA have failed to advance from the group stage after winning their opening match, having progressed in each of the 23 previous instances.

Despite the defeat against Panama last time out, Berhalter stuck with continuity as his only change was an enforced one with Munus replacing the suspended Timothy Weah.

It meant 10 players had started all three group games for the Stars and Stripes in a major competition for only the fourth time (the feat also occurring at the 1950 World Cup, 1994 World Cup and 2016 Copa America).

Previously unbeaten against Uruguay, they had won their final group match at each of their last six tournaments.

However, their xG of 0.58 demonstrated the lacking of a clinical edge in the final third, with just three shots on target throughout the entire contest.

And despite the best efforts of the Kansas City crowd to rally the players, the hosts just could not get going, and you could not see a route back for them once they fell behind. That proved to be the case.

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